By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “Will the Phillies sign Cole Hamels?” That’s a question that was first asked last season, continued through Spring Training, and is still being asked in the hours leading up to his first start of the 2012 season, the Phillies home opener against the Marlins.

“If Cole Hamels isn’t with the Phillies next year, it’s not because the Phillies didn’t want him to be here,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock told 94WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese on Monday.

Giants pitcher Matt Cain’s contract extension, announced last week, seems to have set the floor for a Hamels deal. “[Hamels’] contract, no matter whether it’s the one that he’s offering, or the one that he’s desiring right now, he’s going to be set for life,” Phillies president David Montgomery told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team on Monday. “He’s going to do just fine. Obviously there is discussion of who are his comparables, Cain has been certainly mentioned in that conversation.” Cain’s contract was a six-year, $127.5 million deal.

Though the two issues are obviously tied together, Montgomery was asked whether the dollar amount, or the length of potential Hamels deal is the biggest road block. “I think length is always the biggest concern with pitchers. I mean, you end up, who would have ever felt as far as our second baseman is concerned,” he said. “We signed Chase at a young age, and probably as healthy a guy and what not. And all of a sudden, here at the end of his contract, he has some health issues. I said it before, the best way to keep this going is to heave productive payroll on the field.”

Pitching is especially important for the Phillies, who scored six runs in their first three games in Pittsburgh. When will the offense come around? “Be patient,” Montgomery said.

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